Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

​Does crime increase over Christmas and New Year?

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research is often asked whether crime increases over the Christmas and New Year period. In response to these enquiries, we have carried out an analysis of crime statistics for selected offences.  

The graph below shows the average number of criminal incidents recorded by NSW Police occurring on each day and for each time period between 24 December and 2 January.[1] The averages were calculated by considering the number of criminal incidents recorded by the NSW Police as occurring on these dates for five consecutive years from 2011/2012 to 2015/2016

 

As can be seen, there is an obvious spike in violent offences[2] on New Year's Eve between 9pm and midnight and early on New Year's Day between midnight and 3am. The number of recorded incidents of violent offences between these times are more than nine times that of other days in the period. In addition, half of the violent offences on New Years Eve and New Years Day are recorded as occurring in the 6 hours between 9pm on New Year's Eve and 3am on New Year's Day. These spikes are likely due to higher levels of alcohol consumption and social interaction.

In contrast, recorded violent offences are relatively stable around Christmas Day. As can be seen on the graph above, the incidence pattern between Christmas Eve and 30 December remains consistent, including across the various times of day.

The pattern for property offences [3] is similar to that for violent offences. The incidence of property crime is generally steady over the period with the exception of an increase on New Year's Eve and Day between 6pm on New Year's Eve and 3am on New Year's Day. There is also a small peak on Christmas Eve in the afternoon followed by a slight decrease over Christmas Day.

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[1] Unlike most of the Bureau's Recorded Crime Statistics reports, the current analysis was calculated using the date of the incident, rather than the date when the incident was reported to police. This is because, in some cases, incidents are reported long after they take place and the victim is unsure of the actual date on which the incident occurred. Incidents where there was any doubt about the date of occurrence were excluded from the current analysis.

[2] 'Violent offences' includes murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, domestic violence related assault, non-domestic violence related assault, assault police, sexual assault, indecent assault/act of indecency/other sexual offences, robbery without a weapon, robbery with a firearm and robbery with a weapon not a firearm.

[3]  'Property offences' includes break and enter dwelling and non-dwelling, motor vehicle theft, steal from person/dwelling/retail store/motor vehicle, stock theft, fraud and other theft.